Out guest blogger today is an award winning author who has some really good ideas on how to survive and work through your grief. Her words today are helpful and astute. We hope that her post helps you through this holiday season. ~ Charity Gallardo, Blog Coordinator.
The holiday season tends to be stressful for all of us, yet when you’re grieving, the season is filled with even more anxiety. A time that should bring joy may instead bring just the opposite. One way to help you cope with the hustle and bustle of the season is to reduce holiday stress by focusing on realistic expectations.
Our expectations—both positive and negative—tend to bring added stress to an already ‘emotionally charged’ time. We try to do more than we can realistically handle; we expect everything to be perfect; we want everyone to be on their best behavior; we want each person we encounter to radiate the spirit of the season; and on and on. These are completely unrealistic expectations, and we’re sure to be disappointed.
On top of the typical expectations, when you’re grieving, even more is going on in your heart and head. You wonder how you’ll react (and how everyone else will respond) to the absence of your loved one. You worry whether you’ll be able to make it through the day’s activities. You may not be mentally or physically able to tackle your typical preparations. You’re concerned about other people’s expectations for you.
Stop! Let go of all your ‘shoulds.’ File them away for another time.
You have permission to realize (and admit) that this year will be a little different—and that it’s okay. It’s all right if this year is more subdued. It’s okay if you do less. It’s okay if you talk about your loved one and shed a few tears. It’s not only okay, but it’s much better if you don’t push yourself to do too much! You can do more at a later date. Right now, you’re only making changes for this year. You can adjust again, if necessary.
Don’t try to make this year like all the rest. Focus on relaxing, being thankful for what you still have, and finding small joys within the things you choose to do and the people you decide to spend time with. Accept that you have permission to make choices about how you’ll celebrate. You don’t have to be driven or bound by the choices of other people around you. And be sure to make plans, however simple and low key they may be. Don’t leave your plans up to chance.
Yes, this year may include inescapable feelings of pain and sorrow for you. And this Christmas may be a far cry from Christmases past. But you can make things easier on yourself—and it’s still possible to experience joy along with sadness. Adjust your expectations and reduce your stress whenever and wherever possible. Take control of your holidays instead of leaving details to chance, or letting the holidays (and other people) take control for you.
Judy Brizendine is an author, a blogger, and a speaker. She is committed to focusing attention on grief—and changing the way people view one of life’s toughest experiences everyone will face. Judy has written two books, STUNNED by Grief and STUNNED by Grief Journal. STUNNED by Grief captured the Gold Medal for Nonfiction-Grief in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Awards, and both books received Award-Winning Finalist honors in their respective Self-Help categories in the “USA Best Books 2011” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. STUNNED by Grief was named to Library Journal’s list of “Best Books 2011: Self-Help.”
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